7 Diseases That Can Be Treated with Medical Marijuana

Over the past four decades, treating diseases with medical marijuana has been on the rise. The credibility of cannabis has grown in the medical community as a possible solution to treat chronic conditions and diseases. While marijuana hasn’t demonstrated that it is the ultimate solution or cure to end a disease in general, it can help soothe the effects of chronic diseases, inhibit diseases from developing at a rapid pace and possibly become a replacement for opioids to handle emotional and physical pain.

This is how marijuana positively contributes to the following seven diseases:

1. Depression

A study from the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions tested how marijuana affected chronic stress in rats and used this information to coincide with equivalent human responses. In this experiment, researchers found that when the rats were bound by rodent restraints for long periods of time — a source of chronic stress —  the production of their brain’s endocannabinoids rapidly decreased. In regards to human beings in long-term stressful situations, these receptors influence how well a person can process thoughts, gauge emotions and behave, and they even can impact a person’s cognitive ability to handle pain and anxiety. When there is a lack of endocannabinoid production in the brain, an individual is at risk of developing depression. Marijuana can play a role in restoring cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol in the endocannabinoid system, and helping ease the depressing.

2. Anxiety

Like depression, anxiety reduces the endocannabinoid production in the brain and inhibits an individual’s ability to cope with pain and stress. However, the use of marijuana to treat anxiety can go either way: It can either deplete anxiety or increase it. While marijuana is meant to bring a person into a tranquil state, some individuals possess a brain chemistry that simply does not react well with the plant’s chemicals. In other cases, marijuana has been able to prevent unwanted anxiety attacks, stimulate a calmer “fight-or-flight response” to stress and all-together provide the user with a “high” that releases any tension in the body.

3. Epilepsy

Given that epilepsy is a cause of seizures (also known as “electrical storms”), medical scientists have created a specific CBD formula that is proven safe for individuals to use because it possessed little to no effect on the sensitive psychoactivity of epilepsy patients. Some of the first tests with marijuana, such as a 2015 test at the NYU Langone Medical Center, actually demonstrated that it had the ability to suppress seizures. Because of this, researchers and developers have been able to manipulate marijuana compounds to tailor to an individual’s epileptic condition, keeping in mind that this disease affects multiple people differently.

4. Alzheimer’s

Marijuana diminishes the intensity of hallucinations, improves poor sleeping habits and stops aggressive outbursts suffered by individuals with Alzheimer’s. The main source of Alzheimer’s is its rapid production of beta-amyloid proteins, which cause plaques to develop in the brain and dangerously reduce the necessary peptides in amino acids that enable one to properly function. Most importantly, marijuana can slow this build-up of proteins to prevent existing Alzheimer’s from deteriorating an individual’s brain.

5. HIV/AIDS

 The HIV virus weakens the immune system, but marijuana softens the impact of disorienting and uncomfortable symptoms of a weak immune system, such as nausea, muscle and joint pain, loss of appetite, severe headaches and fevers. Furthermore, in this particular study from Spain in 2008, marijuana was proven to prevent chemical reactions in the body that create HIV compounds.

6. Cancer

While marijuana does not fundamentally cure cancer or diminish its symptoms, it is able to reduce the discomfort in certain treatments that many cancer patients undergo. Cancer patients who use medical marijuana endure a lessened amount of inevitable nausea and vomiting caused by their chemotherapy treatments. Furthermore, cannabinoids improve appetite and can ease the neuropathic pain that is a result of severe nerve damage caused by chemotherapy.

7. Drug Addiction

Though it seems counter-intuitive, recovering addicts can use medical marijuana to reverse the effects of opioid addiction, decrease unwanted drug cravings and even diminish the emotional and physical symptoms of addiction. This is due to the chemical compounds of cannabidiol, which binds to brain receptors that induce a safer “high” and counteract impairments and mental damage caused by long-term drug abuse. Lastly, marijuana can even replace addictive painkillers since it targets the same nerve receptors as opioids without putting the user at risk for chronic addiction.

TELL US, what diseases do you treat with cannabis?

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Does Cannabis Help People with HIV Preserve Brain Function?

Modern antiretroviral drugs can extend the life of people living with HIV to a near-normal life expectancy—a feat for medical science—but those individuals are prone to potentially devastating declines in brain function over time. 

Through a constantly updated stream of daily pill regimens, doctors can lower an HIV infection to sustained undetectable levels, render it untransmittable to others and dramatically extend life spans. And, the side effects of today’s drugs are closer to bearable. Sadly though, far too many people today are unaware of the normalcy that people living with HIV can achieve, considering the scope of the horror that the virus unleashed in communities in the past. But nowadays, many people with HIV simply seek a better quality of life, despite aging with the side effects of drugs, and that’s where cannabis comes in handy. 

Cannabis and HIV

Cannabis may function as an invaluable complementary medicine, and be especially useful for people with HIV, ranging from its reported applications for neuropathic pain to wasting syndrome, and even its potential to slow the progression of the virus in the body—as researchers observed in monkeys with an HIV-like virus. 

A new potential benefit of cannabis has been observed: it may slow cognitive loss in people with HIV.

At least as early as 2004, investigators at Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health studied the effects of cannabis on cognitive function in people with HIV but results were varied. The team admitted that they found both beneficial and adverse effects. While studies have argued that cannabis exhibits both positive and negative effects on brain function such as memory, a growing body of evidence suggests some more is happening.

Cognitive decline impacts 30–50 percent of all of HIV-infected persons. HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is a disease relatively similar to Alzheimer’s, which is found in people living with HIV. It’s a disorder that can cause dementia with varying levels of hardship. HIV-associated dementia (HAD) is a pronounced form manifested by struggles with behavior and body movement. Living with conditions like these is no way to live. 

A recent highly-funded and publicized study suggests that cannabis may lower circulating activated monocytes, a type of white blood cell, and proteins which are blamed for inflammation in the brain that leads to dementia. That, in turn, could combat the effects of dementia in the long run. Norbert E. Kaminski and a team at Michigan State University’s Center for Integrative Toxicology examined how cannabis affects inflammation and HIV-related cognitive impairment. First, Kaminski learned that cannabis may extend the mental stamina of people with HIV. The study elevated the importance of his research in the public eye. Last year, Kaminski’s project was awarded a generous $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for a sweeping, five-year study. He’s studied the effects of cannabis since 1990, and his work has often overlapped into Alzheimer’s research.

Researchers took blood samples from several hundred patients with HIV and measured circulating activated monocytes and a protein called IP 10 that are typically blamed for leading to HAND and cognitive decline. Levels were measured in HIV-positive participants, isolated into groups of those who consume cannabis and those who do not. What they found was a lower number of circulating activated monocytes and IP-10 in participants who consume cannabis compared to the group that does not consume cannabis. And cannabinoids, they suspect, were a defining factor.

“We conclude,” wrote researchers, “that within the context of HIV-associated neuroinflammation and cognitive decline, cannabinoid therapies may decelerate peripheral immune processes that are implicated in HIV-associated neuroinflammation.” 

Just months ago, Kaminski’s team began using GB Science’s cannabis-based compounds to further their research. But usually, medical cannabis research is limited to a very narrow window of capabilities due to the federal classification of cannabis, and investigators have to heavily rely on patient-reported data.

Pharmaceuticals vs Cannabis for HIV Treatment

There are a few other reasons why cannabis may be more effective for brain function than conventional medicine. HIV penetrates the blood-brain barrier into a region that’s difficult to reach through pharmaceutical drugs. Researchers have noted the “blood-brain barrier challenge,” or the inability for many HIV drugs to effectively treat the body in the brain and central nervous system. Basically, HIV can go where many drugs cannot. Miraculously, cannabis, being highly lipid-dissolvable, can also penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which makes it highly effective for having an effect on the brain and the central nervous system. Presumably, that’s why it’s so effective for a plethora of other central nervous system problems.

Unsurprisingly, the permeability of cannabis through the brain-blood barrier to combat HAND and dementia in people with HIV has become a topic of conversation at recent HIV conferences, including at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections held last March in Seattle, Washington.

Studies like Michigan State University’s ongoing research into the role that cannabis plays in people with HIV could lead to an HIV-specific cannabis drug in the future. HIV pharmaceutical drugs, in my own experience, can cause powerful hallucinations, kidney problems, tooth loss or worse. On top of that, HIV retroviral drugs almost always cost a fortune. Cannabis can abate many of those side effects and ease many of those symptoms. Too often though, we are aware of the benefits of cannabis, but we don’t know how it works.

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